Tuesday, December 29, 2009

UA Withheld Classified Workers' Raises

Arkansas legislators conducting budget hearings in Little Rock next month will be reviewing the decision by the University of Arkansas and other universities to withhold full pay increases from classified employees despite a law that provided for the raises this fiscal year, according to the co-chairman of the Joint Budget Committee.

All state agencies gave the full raises, but Arkansas Tech was the only four-year public university to give more than a partial pay plan increase to classified workers this fiscal year. Unlike state agencies, colleges and universities do not answer directly to the governor or legislature under the Arkansas Constitution. Finance director Richard Weiss admitted, “We don’t have any control or very little control over colleges and universities.”

In a memorandum to university administrators, Dr. Jim Purcell, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, said “The level of support that higher education institutions received in this tough budget year was to some extent based upon an understanding that the institutions would implement the pay plan.” He also advised “that full implementation of the pay plan as soon as practical is highly desired,” and he reminded them that their budgets “are dependent on legislative and executive branch support.”

Higher education budget hearings begin on January 12, and the full legislative fiscal session begins February 8.

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